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County Executive Dinolfo Sues State Over Driver’s License Law

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Monroe County filed suit against New York, challenging a law that allows driver’s licenses to be issued to immigrants who are in the country illegally.

The county’s Fairness in Licensing Lawsuit claims that the new state law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by putting citizens and non-citizens on unequal footing under the law.

“To me, bringing this lawsuit against the State of New York is all about protecting fundamental fairness in licensing,” Dinolfo said in a news release. The county filed the lawsuit Aug. 29.

“Under Albany’s misguided new law, citizens will be required to provide more stringent identification to secure a driver’s license than those who are here illegally,” Dinolfo continued in the news release. “Lawful citizens will also have their identifying information readily available to local law enforcement agencies, while illegal immigrants will have that same information shielded from police. This law is flawed, fundamentally unfair, and likely unconstitutional, and I look forward to challenging it on its legal merits by taking Governor Cuomo to court.”

The suit seeks to stop the state from enforcing the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act” that Cuomo signed on June 17, 2019.

The suit also alleges that the act’s requirement that Monroe County and its employees refuse to provide federal immigration agencies with information could expose them to criminal penalties for violating federal law, according to the news release.

The suit further alleges that the act’s requirement of less intrusive and less reliable proofs of identity from illegal immigrants than from lawful citizens violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Monroe County Legislature recently authorized Dinolfo as county executive to file the lawsuit.

The news release stated that under the County Charter, the Monroe County Clerk can bring such a suit because the subject is “germane to the statutory operation of the Clerk’s office.”

The release said that Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello declined to take legal action against the state and has indicated he intends to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. The release said other upstate clerks, Democrat and Republican, have filed suits.

Bello, a Democrat, is running against Dinolfo, a Republican, in November.